The Nationals rank sixth in the majors in strikeouts after Friday night’s 14-K whiffapalooza, and as Davey Johnson surely knows, it will take more than “manning up” for them to snap out of their offensive funk. Set aside his most pointed bromide, and Johnson got to the nature of the Nationals’ issue.
The Nationals rank second-to-last in the National League with a .669 OPS, and only two major league teams are scoring fewer runs per game. They have far too much talent, on paper, for that to happen. Their problem boils to the most elemental pieces of hitting: They are letting too many strikes go and swinging at too many balls.
“We’ve got good hitters, but we are striking out more than we should,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if it’s not being aggressive enough early in the count. We’re not making them throw it over the plate. We’re trying to make too much happen.”
The Nationals, in short, are not controlling the strike zone. Per FanGraphs.com, the Nationals have swung at 30 percent of pitches thrown out of the zone, which ranks 10th in the majors. They have offered at 63.6 percent of pitchers inside the strike zone, which ranks 22nd.